Need New Ideas to Help Expose Your Child to New Foods?
A common concern parents of Picky Eaters or Problem Feeders share is that it can be hard to expose your child to new foods, especially if they aren’t able to eat meals at the same time with the family or if they are reluctant to even being in the same room with you if you are eating something different. While we have many strategies and tips for helping kids learn to enjoy learning about new foods, a common first place to start is just getting the child into the kitchen with you while you are preparing foods. Here are a few simple ideas that you can start incorporating tonight!
Set up a ‘washing station’ at your sink and have your child wash the fruits and/or vegetables you are preparing for the meal with a scrub brush (We love this fruit and veggie prep kit from Curious Chef, which comes with a vegetable scrubber, melon baller, medium nylon knife (which actually cuts food, but not skin), an apple slicer, large silicone spoon, and a vegetable peeler. Kids as young as 18 months can be quite successful with this task, especially if you invest in a Kitchen Helper Stool or Learning Tower (even if you end up re-washing the fruits and veggies later).
Have your child be the ‘spice master’ for a recipe. Set out the spices and dried herbs for the recipe and let them measure and add them in. One of our therapists gives her toddlers a bowl of the spices already measured out and lets them stir the spices, then pour the whole bowl into the pot. Older kids can benefit from the opportunity to practice smelling different herbs and spices and describing the smells (big or small; sweet, spicy, smokey, plant-y, etc.)
If cooking is a challenge for you, you might consider enlisting some help so you can all learn basic kitchen skills together. We love the online, self-paced cooking classes created for children of all ages by Kids Cook Real Food. The best part, is there are kids in the videos, actually learning and modeling the skills as well, which can be great for many kids who are visual learners.
There are also many great cookbooks created specifically for kids. One of our favorite books is Food Activities for Children: No Heat, Meat, or Fancy Kitchen Gadgets Required, which was written by an occupational therapist, specifically for kids who are having a hard time learning about new foods. Since she is an occupational therapist and feeding therapist, she is able to break down all of the learning opportunities involved in preparing a recipe, including learning about the sensory aspects of each ingredient and helping to develop fine motor skills and coordination while still being fun!
We have many more strategies and recommendations within the articles you have access to when you become a member, and members are also able to e-mail us questions and receive specific, individualized recommendations about their child and how to best support them.